Finance representative example (PCP)

Total cash price £22,999. Borrowing £18,399 with a £4,600 deposit at a representative APR of 12.9%.

49 monthly payments
£319.48
Fixed interest rate
12.9%
Total amount payable
£30,292.86
Cost of credit
£7,293.86
Optional final payment
£10,358.00
Annual mileage limit
6000 miles

Volkswagen Golf GTI buying guide

What versions of the Volkswagen Golf GTI are there?

The Golf GTI comes in one form only, a five-door hatchback. This version is already very practical but lacks the outright cargo capacity of the Golf Estate. Estate models are only available with the Golf's regular engine lineup or, if you want performance, you'll have to jump up to the range-topping Golf R version, which is available in both body styles. If you fancy a little extra performance in your Golf, but would prefer a different engine option, check out the diesel-powered Golf GTD and the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE.

What's the Volkswagen Golf GTI's interior and technology like?

Another unifying feature of all Golf models is the sense of quality once you step inside. The dashboard, centre console and all key touch points are very firmly screwed down, with no creaks or rattles as you drive about. VW has bought into the minimalism trend that's become so popular across the industry. We're not huge fans of the climate controls, which have mostly moved to the screen save for the touch-sensitive temperature sliders, which are fiddly to use on the move and unlit at nighttime. There are almost no other buttons on the dashboard, with most functions handled by the dual-screen infotainment setup – one central screen for the cabin and a driver's information screen behind the steering wheel, housed together in one unit.

Speaking of the infotainment setup, you'll find little to complain about in the Golf GTI. The touchscreen is responsive and the graphics are clear enough to read on the move. Plus, all versions include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard alongside a traditional built-in sat nav. Volkswagen has added sporty graphics to the driver's screen to mark the GTI out from lesser models, but we think it looks a bit fussy and a cleaner graphics package would've been easier to read at a glance.

As for practicality, there's essentially no difference between the GTI and the regular Golf. That means a cabin with good space for four adult passengers and the ability to squeeze a fifth on the back row for very short journeys. The boot is usefully square and can just about handle two large suitcases or a pushchair, although you'll want to consider the Golf Estate if outright practicality is a concern for you.

Volkswagen Golf GTI engines and performance

Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 TSI

In the past, there was just one engine option with the GTI. However, there's now an entry-level option to kick the range off. The regular GTI uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 245hp. That means the car can sprint to 62mph from rest in a rapid 6.4 seconds, or 6.2 for cars with the optional DSG automatic gearbox. Whichever version you pick, it's a real pleasure to use, with abundant power when pootling about town, or when flinging up a country road.

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 2.0 TSI 300

VW has now expanded the GTI lineup with the addition of a Clubsport model. This version boosts the 2.0-litre petrol's output to a mighty 300hp helping it feel even more frantic when you put your foot down. The 0-62mph dash falls to just 5.6 seconds – knocking on the door of some seriously high-performance models from several classes above.

Volkswagen Golf GTI FAQs

The GTI is within a few millimetres of a regular Golf in every dimension. That's means, at less than 4.3 metres long, it's a little shorter than key rivals including the Ford Focus ST and Honda Civic Type R. Those compact dimensions, along with standard all-round parking sensors make the GTI easy to live with in the city. If you want to tackle the tightest of parking spaces, however, check out the even smaller Volkswagen Polo GTI.

Inside, there's space for four adults to sit comfortably. You can fit a fifth on the rear row, but your passengers will be bumping elbows and fighting over foot space, so this is only really useful for short journeys. There is enough room to secure kids in their child seats, but the task will be quite a bit easier in the taller, more spacious Volkswagen Tiguan.

The boot is a useful 380 litres – middle of the class against similar rivals – with a fairly square shape. That's enough for a couple of large suitcases or a pushchair, with more available if you fold the rear row. You can get a similar overall experience with much more cargo space in the Skoda Octavia vRS.

No, the Volkswagen Golf GTI is front-wheel drive only. If you want a high-performance Golf with all-wheel drive, check out the Golf R.

Most buyers in the UK will get on just fine without AWD, however, especially if you equip winter tyres during the colder months.

Volkswagen has tended to score in the middle of the pack in recent reliability surveys. There aren't widespread reports of common issues with eighth-generation Golf models, and the engine and many parts will be shared with lots of other Volkswagen and VW-Group models.

Nevertheless, the GTI is a high-performance model and lots of hard driving will make parts wear out faster than they otherwise would. For extra peace of mind, add an extended warranty to your purchase to protect against unexpected bills.

While Volkswagen servicing isn't quite as expensive as more premium manufacturers like BMW and Audi, it's still a little pricier than other mass-market manufacturers. As a result, you might need to budget a little more for your Golf GTI's maintenance and servicing than some cheaper alternatives.

On top of this, the GTI is a high-performance model with more specialised engine and drivetrain parts than lesser Golf, which will be more expensive if you need to replace them.

For most drivers, the Golf GTI will feel very powerful. The hot-hatch power wars of the last few years means the basic GTI now has 245hp and hits 62mph in 6.4 seconds (6.2 for the auto). That's plenty to push you back in your seat when you floor it, but also means the GTI feels totally effortless when reaching faster motorway speeds.

For an even more white-knuckle experience, try the 300hp GTI Clubsport. This version feels like even more of a hooligan when you put the pedal to the metal, and cuts the 0-62mph sprint down to 5.6 seconds.

Entry-level Golf GTIs with a six-speed manual gearbox will hit 62mph from a standstill in 6.4 seconds. That feels quick in almost any circumstance and, for most buyers, will be more than enough of a thrill. Versions with the seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox complete the 62mph dash in 6.2 seconds.

The 300hp Golf GTI Clubsport only comes with the automatic and, with its extra power, can dash to 62mph in just 5.6 seconds.

All GTI models are limited to 155mph.

The most powerful Golf GTI version is the Clubsport. This uses the same 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine but boosts output to 300hp.

Entry-level Volkswagen Golf GTI models have 245hp – that's a lot in a car this size. You can also upgrade to the even faster Golf GTI Clubsport with 300hp.

For the majority of drivers, the Golf GTI isn't a good choice for a first car. While the Golf is generally sensible and easy to drive, the GTI's powerful engine and relatively high price mean insurance costs will be prohibitively high for almost all buyers.

To see a selection of cars that'll make a better choices as your first set of wheels, check out our picks for the best cars for first-time drivers.